Livery drivers at LPIA decry new policy

NAD says operational changes intended to improve efficiency

NASSAU, BAHAMAS- Private livery drivers at Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) yesterday expressed grave concern about the sustainability of their businesses after a new policy implemented by airport’s management prevented them from utilizing the airport’s commercial lane to complete guest pick-ups.

The commercial lane at LPIA is designated for taxi cab drivers, while an adjacent lane is designated for tour companies to utilize.

The Nassau Airport Development (NAD) company previously allowed the smaller livery companies to utilize the lanes to pick up their guests, but according to an email circulated late last week by NAD’s Manager of Landside Operations Nicole Henfield the private livery operators must now utilize the short-term parking lot at LPIA.

The email explained that the decision was made to reduce traffic congestion, and improve efficiency at the airport.

But Sophia Deveaux and Jacqueline Simon, both private livery drivers, told Eyewitness News Monday that the new policy is a detrimental to business.

“Today, it’s raining cats and dogs out here and you would see for yourself that there is no way for us to offer our luxury service to our clients when we don’t have a proper place to work with,” Simon said.

“They want us to service these guests from the parking lot.

“After our guests would have pre-booked and paid to have a luxury experience; do you think that they really expect to have to walk across a parking lot to our vehicles?”

Deveaux expressed similar sentiments.

“These guests are paying good money for service and this new policy is just not good for business,” she said.

“Here you have these taxis lined off and they’re looking for jobs, but we have pre-booked business and cannot offer our service in this area anymore, which is actually a more efficient position for us to access our clients who are paying top dollar.”

Simon said he and other private livery drivers have been given the boot while other tour operators receive “preferential treatment.”

“The companies are Majestic Tours, Bahamas Experience, Leisure Tours, Cheryl Taxi and Island Escape. Absolutely nothing separates us from these other operators. They have pre-arranged work and I do strictly pre-arranged work as well,” he asserted.

Deveaux accused NAD of failing to consult with stakeholders ahead of implementing the new policy.

“We should have been consulted; that’s not even a question especially because it’s affecting such a large [number] of persons. They should have consulted us,” Deveaux said.

Simon said he will try every avenue to further discussions before considering other options.

“I am going to meet with the operations manager, Deborah Coleby, and depending on what resolution we get from her I will meet with Vernice Walkine (NAD’s president and CEO) and if we are unable to make headway with her, then I will attempt to reach the minister of tourism for dialogue,” Simon said.

In a press statement responding to the drivers’ concerns, NAD indicated that the recent change to operations on the commercial lane at LPIA was made in response to concerns expressed by representatives of livery operators, and will continue.

The statement indicated that the new policy, which began yesterday, will continue.

NAD encouraged operators to communicate their grievances in an effort to maintain an open line of communication.